The ability to think rationally and the ability to rationalize are quite different. Rational thinking starts with observing the world, before drawing conclusions about it. Conversely, rationalization starts with conclusions that a person has already come to, and then takes bits and pieces of reality and bends them to serve its unhealthy purpose. Dr. Pretlow says:
In our studies, nearly all the obese youth refused to look at why they eat such large amounts…They threw up all kinds of justifications (deflections) against reducing amounts, e.g. they NEED the amounts they eat or they won’t be able to play football, study, sleep, etc. One parent vehemently claimed that her 250-pound 13-year-old needed 2,800 calories per day for his weight.
One reason for the existence of fatlogic is apparent right there. It’s hereditary. Parents conceive beliefs and pass them on to their kids. An early education in fatlogic is especially insidious because we are pretty much raised to respect and perpetuate these received teachings. Failure to listen to our elders equals disrespect. Also, children are born with an inherent desire to admire, believe, depend on, and imitate their parents. Knowing this, it behooves parents to bequeath only true and health-promoting beliefs.
Children are not the only creatures who can be influenced. To varying extents, adults are also influenced by the people around them. Starting a family is a delicate transition point in life. Looking forward to the birth of a first child, many adults are easily swayed. Often, prospective parents are anxious and scared and afraid of doing something wrong.
A first-time mother, especially, is emotionally vulnerable because of hormonal adjustments within her body and brain. As the baby develops, the mother will absorb solid medical information, terrifying war stories, folk wisdom, and old wives’ tales. A Reddit correspondent called “rpsoon” reflects on the worrisome stories she heard about, and from, women who gained weight while pregnant and never could lose it. Her doctor advised adding no more than 20 extra pounds. But a friend insisted:
You need to eat more. You’re eating for two now…Now you can eat everything you want and get as fat as you want. And no one can judge you because you’re pregnant.
Pregnant women get plenty of unsolicited advice. But really, anyone can fall prey to unrecognized fatlogic. A man might be told that his wealth of testosterone will make it easier for him to lose weight, if he ever needs to, so might as well go ahead and eat hearty.
Another Reddit forum member, “BarracudaCat,” has been successful in working toward a healthier weight. He mentions how the defenders of obesity will claim that poverty prevents them from buying vegetables, and anyway, “healthy” is a code word for “skinny,” and so on. He also gives two stunning examples of how fatlogic has the power to cloud minds:
You mention a personal experience losing weight by cutting portion sizes? They blast back “Some of us are too poor for a fancy gym membership and personal trainer!”
Everything is misdirection, strawman arguments, ad hominen attacks, false dichotomies…One person’s weight loss “doesn’t mean it’s possible for everyone!” and yet “MY bloodwork is fine, that means ALL fat people are healthy!”
In the first instance, the disagreeable fatlogician was not even listening, and replied to something entirely different from what the speaker had said. The second case is a classic example of cognitive dissonance—the ability to believe two mutually contradictory things at the same time.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “22 Weeks In: Bring On The Pregnancy Fatlogic (self.fatlogic),” reddit.com, 2014
Source: “Dismantling fat logic makes me an “ignorant prick”, Reddit.com, November 2014
Image: Bradley Gordon